AVmail: Nov. 7, 2005

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Reader mail this week about fuel prices, closing Potomac Airfield and more.


Fuel Prices

After the FBO at my base airport raised their prices by more than a $1/gallon overnight, I started asking around to see what had caused it. The answer turned out to be that they were simply matching the price of the FBO across the field, not simply covering cost increases. The trickle-down results were fast and alarming. A Cessna 152 now costs $75/hour. A beat-up, old, VFR-equipped Warrior costs $109/hr, and a Seminole is $214/hr. They are now charging $45/hr for instruction and paying the CFI less than one third of that. It now costs more per hour for me to fly my 65 hp J-4 Cub than it did to fly my old 172 in 2002! And contrary to common wisdom, my insurance has not been the cause.

Why can't people see that we are killing general aviation? I know from talking to local student pilots that many people are giving up their dream because they have seen the price double while they've been taking lessons.

Oil companies, distributors and retailers (FBOs) should not be posting record profits while the aviation industry is collapsing around them. Their operating practices are a very poor investment in their future and ours.

As a community we need to seek out reputable, honest, hard-working FBOs who don't try and empty our pockets every time we show up. Good operators are out there; you just have to pick up the phone and make some inquiries before taking off.

Isaac Silver


Potomac Airfield

Just what is going on with the TSA people (NewsWire, Oct. 31)? I trained at Potomac before it was Potomac and worked there for many years under the prior owner. I also knew the current owner, and he would not do anything to jeopardize things there, as he was instrumental in getting things working again. As most of the people (including myself) answered to the question (QOTW, Nov. 3): "When did 'they' become 'They' ?" It has just plain gone much too far. The TSA has much too much power, and needs to be reined in a bit.

Dan Colburn


Soft-Field Brainteasers

Re: Brainteaser #100

My soft-field takeoff procedure in a tailwheel:

Use as much power as required to keep moving during taxi. Plan the taxi and takeoff to be in one motion (no stops). During the taxi, keep the elevator in a position to provide good positive steering, while not forcing the tail into the soft whatever. Once lined up on the runway, gently apply full power, keeping it straight with as much rudder as is required. Once moving, raise the tail to about 2 or 3 inches above the soft whatever. Keep it in that position, and fly off in ground effect. Stay in ground effect until a safe climb speed is obtained. Simple, but usually needs some practice. Tailwheel-equipped aeroplanes are somewhat quicker to lift off in this scenario than their tricycle counterparts. Point of leverage, and all that stuff!

Bob Salway


In my Piper Tri-Pacer I like to start with the yoke all the way back, flaps at the first click so I can reach the handle easily, get up to about 50 mph and then pull on full flaps. The airplane jumps off the runway. You then fly the airplane with the flap handle and the yoke, slowly lowering both as your speed build up. It keeps you busy, but it is a lot of fun.

Ron Enck


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